VG 2012

Visitors Guides

Discover all there is to see and do in The OC. Request a Visitor's Guide!

The OC Spotlight
California Welcome Center - Widget (2)

San Juan Capistrano header

San Juan Capistrano

Welcome to San Juan Capistrano, California!

From its historic Mission and Los Rios Street to its vibrant trails, train depot and quaint downtown, the City of San Juan Capistrano offers a bevy of historic, entertaining and distinctive locales for tourists to explore, just minutes away from the famous Orange County coast.

San Juan Capistrano is most well-known for its annual Return of The Swallows Celebration, which takes place on Saint Joseph's Day, March 19.  This two-month long celebration of the return of the Cliff Swallows to San Juan Capistrano begins in late February with the "Taste of San Juan Reception" followed by signature events during Swallow's week, open to visitors and residents alike.

  • Contests like the Hairiest Man Contest, Pets on Parade, Hat Contest
  • Annual Swallows Day Parade & Mercado
  • Ringing of the historic bells
  • Live mariachi music
  • Special Guest Lecture On Cliff Swallows
  • Special school performances
  • History of St. Joseph's Day and Swallows Legend

Orange County's only mission, Mission San Juan Capistrano is a historic Southern California landmark and museum just 3 miles from the beautiful OC coastline. Nicknamed "The Jewel of the Missions," it has been at the center of Orange County since its founding by Padre Junipero Serra on November 1, 1776. Today it is one of California's most important historical, cultural, and educational centers.

With a visit to this important link to California's past, the whole family can enjoy budget-friendly activities, experience early California culture and interact with history in many ways - from audio tours to educational tour booklets, fun exhibits and historical re-enactments.  Daily activities including panning for gold, koi fish feeding, adobe brick making, Native American basket weaving, and a wide range of exciting historic tours

The Mission offers events nearly every weekend from concerts under the stars, to garden shows, fashion shows, living history reenactments and more.  Been a while since your last visit?  Check out what's new here!  If you're planning a visit to Mission San Juan Capistrano, be sure to check out the 2-for-1 discount coupons online before your visit!  The Mission is located on Ortega Highway west of Interstate 5 and is open daily from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Visiting San Juan Capistrano for the first time?  Don't miss the highlights of this historic seaside Southern California town, which include The Capistrano Depot, Los Rios Historic District, O'Neil Museum, Zoomar Petting Zoo, and Historic Town Center Park.  Nowhere in the state of California is the history of western small towns so fully revealed as in the few square blocks of San Juan Capistrano's village core.  Click here for a walking tour map of San Juan Capistrano.

Book a stay at one of the oceanfront hotels, like The Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel.  And support SJC's delicious local restaurants, many of them located within walking distance of each other.  Restaurant week is in January!  Spend the day shopping on Antique Row. The City's downtown and 30 other commercial areas offer a wide variety of shopping opportunities, from beautiful jewelry and indian blankets to hardware, cars, and groceries. Contact the Chamber of Commerce 949-493-4700 for more information and a free shopping center map. 

Why not take the train?  Visit here for transportation tips and driving directions.